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Australia’s digital transformation progress

In his opening address at the Senate Estimates, Chief Executive Officer of Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), Randall Brugeaud, shared how far along Australia has come in its digital transformation. Although in office for four short months, work is clearly cut out for him under the DTA’s four strategic priorities between 2018-2019.

Australia’s Whole-of-Government Digital Transformation Strategy and Roadmap

Brugeaud recognised that technology has fundamentally altered the way people work, live and play. Technologies provide the impetus for change as well as the arena for the opening of new opportunities. Australia has charted breakthroughs as a digital leader globally. Yet, Brugeaud believed the country still has a long way to go. For example, Australia is learning best practices from other countries like Estonia and Denmark on digital government services.

By the end of 2018, the Australian government will publish a strategy to deliver world-leading digital services for all Australians. Called the Digital Transformation Strategy and Roadmap, the government will plot strategic goals and plans for the country up till 2025. Within the strategy is a description of Australia’s vision for digital transformation in government. It was outlined in partnership with other government departments as well as industry partners. The public was also a key player in its development, informing implementation planning and shaping the strategy and roadmap.

Australia’s Digital Capability Improvement Program

The program seeks to enable and accelerate the digital transformation agenda, which will in turn improve digital capability. Capability is understood as the provision of guidance tools, training and mentoring. Efforts will also be deployed to coordinate digital entry level programs.

However, Brugeaud foresees that this will not be a smooth sailing journey. He said, “[The digital capability improvement program] presents a range of challenges, most of which are not unique to government. Our strategic response is a three-part strategy; to build, to borrow and to buy capability.”

Hence, talent will be tapped on and shared among APS agencies, academia and the private sector.

In terms of buying capability, digital products and services will be obtained to be of higher value, more flexible, competitive and accessible. More is being done to simplify industry’s sale of capabilities to government entities.

As of late, close to AUD 279 million worth of contracts have been awarded. Most of which are to small and medium sized businesses.

Australia’s Whole-of-Government Digital Platforms

A ubiquitous digital platform speeds up the delivery and ease of government services. Efficiency is improved, costs are lowered and the user experience bettered. Currently, DTA leads the delivery of platforms such as Digital Identity, Notifications and Tell us Once and makes improvements to myGov.

DTA is expanding on Digital Identity services. Brugeaud said it would be critical and reassured that mechanisms to secure the platform will be made. Australia’s pilot Digital Identity service will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

“We will begin rolling out digital identity pilots over the coming weeks. These pilots will allow us to test, iterate and improve systems before they are released. The first pilot will allow people to acquire a government-issued digital identity and a Tax File Number entirely online. This will reduce a month-long, partly analogue process to a less than 30 minute, fully digital process,” explained Brugeaud.

Australia’s ICT and Digital Investment Advice and Portfolio Oversight

Bi-monthly, the DTA collects and monitors government initiatives with an ICT or digital spend of over AUD 10 million. Sixty-three such projects are presently under DTA’s radar. These receive advice and support from DTA where they provide the greatest value. Nevertheless, agencies remain accountable for their own initiatives.

Coming clean, Brugeaud publicly acknowledged the well-publicised ICT project failures over the last few years. Yet, he remained hopeful that the Agency could achieve more based on its history of promising government services, such as the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.

Ending off his opening statement, Brugeaud affirmed, “We have a lot of work to do, but I’m optimistic about what lied ahead.”

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